Friday, March 30, 2007

PD Article: Bennett sues to keep his job on elections board

Bennett sues to keep his job on elections board
Secretary of state defends firing him
Friday, March 30, 2007
Joan Mazzolini
Plain Dealer Reporter

Cuyahoga County elections board Chairman Bob Bennett has filed suit in Franklin County asking the court to block Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner from removing him from the board.

The suit contends that Brunner's action would violate Bennett's constitutional rights and that her accusations against the board are vague. The suit also argues that:
The Ohio law dealing with removal of board members fails to define misfeasance and nonfeasance.

Brunner cannot take action to remove Bennett based on con duct that occurred before she took office in January 2007.

Brunner, a Democrat, is attempting to remove Bennett, head of the Ohio GOP, because he supported her opponent in the 2006 election and plans to support Republican candidates in 2008.

In a telephone interview, Brunner defended her move to fire Bennett.

"This is about making elections in Cuyahoga County better," she said. "I think he is embarrassing himself. I don't know where he's going to find a court anywhere that says he's entitled to this job."

Brunner added that the section in Ohio law that Bennett is challenging is "that section that gives him the right to go through the process. He's challenging some of the safeguards."

Bennett's lawyer also asked for a court order to stop an April 2 hearing on Brunner's complaint that the board violated state election laws and failed to properly administer elections. A compromise reached outside of court resulted in the hearing being moved to April 9.

About two weeks ago, Brunner asked all four members of the board to resign or face being fired.

Three board members, Democrats Edward Coaxum and Loree Soggs, and Republican Sally Florkiewicz, have resigned. Bennett has refused.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:, 216-999-4563

© 2007 The Plain Dealer© 2007

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